Today's Question: Are you concerned about turnover in school leadership?

Monday, March 9, 2009 | 11:30 a.m. CDT; updated 1:08 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 9, 2009

Before the Columbia School Board met on Monday to decide the best way to reduce the district’s spending by $4.4 million in order to make up for a revenue shortage, nine candidates who are competing for a spot on the board were available to the public as a group for the first time.

Eventually two winners will be chosen in the April 7 election to replace current president Michelle Gadbois and vice president Steve Calloway, neither of whom is running for re-election.

Monday’s candidate forum at Jack’s Gourmet Restaurant is the first of three scheduled gatherings designed to introduce the candidates to the public and allow citizens to ask them questions.

The newly elected board members will take their positions at a volatile time, with an uncertain budget situation, teachers working to fill the voids left by the latest round of cuts and unrest from parents concerned about the negative impact this will have on their children’s education.

They will also be filling spots on a board suddenly stripped of its leadership. With both Gadbois and Calloway stepping aside and recently appointed Chris Belcher about to take over as superintendent, the new members will have little time to learn and few people to go to for a crash course in the Columbia Public Schools.

Does it concern you that three important leadership roles in the Columbia School District will change hands in a short period of time?

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Derrick Fogle March 9, 2009 | 2:17 p.m.

There may be a newbie blunder or two, but... will it be any worse than what we've seen already?

I think a lot of the problems have finally been brought out in the open, and this is a chance for a new group of people to do better than the last group did. I'm looking forward to it!

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